Widecombe History Group Minutes August 2000

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A meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House Widecombe on Wednesday 2nd August 2000 at 7.30 p.m..

Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 41 people attended. She began by welcoming everyone to the meeting and particularly some new faces, saying that she hoped they would enjoy the evening.


Rosemary Mortimore, Bessie French, Rodney Mortimore, Liz Fursdon, Rosemund Whale, Mark and Sharon Hutchins, Michael Pascoe, David West, Roger and Ann Claxton.

Minutes of the last meeting were read and signed as correct.


North Hall

Peter Rennells reported that prior to the dowsing of the North Hall site, permission had been obtained from Rev Derek Newport, our Rector, to dowse the area in and around our Parish Church to see if any ‘earth energy lines’ were evident. Two particularly strong lines were found, one running East to West through the length of the church, and another running South to North which continued across the Village Green through Glebe Farm and heading towards Hameldown. The two fields at Glebe Farm currently of interest in the North Hall research project, were then dowsed by John Christian and in his opinion there are some building remains underground worth further exploration. He outlined where the interesting areas are. It was agreed that we should let one of our members, Tony Heath, himself a dowser, go over the same area to see what he could find. Then we should compare the two reports and their findings, and then consider what further action could be recommended.

Storage and Grants

The sub-committee have met and considered the ‘small heritage grants’ scheme and at present cannot recommend it to the group. This is primarily because there has to be a minimum £5,000 cost for a plan and then the grant can be awarded at 60% of costs leaving 40% to be found by the group. The constitution of the group needs to be read with care to see that it would be acceptable to such a grant committee. If it is felt that the constitution needs amending for this purpose, the appropriate action should be taken in readiness for any future schemes.

Beating the Bounds

Peter Hirst reported that the Widecombe Primary school children and all those associated with the school walks have been presented with their Millennium Mugs at the end of term service held on Thursday 20th July. This amounted to about 70 mugs. He has now compiled a list of all those who he thinks took part in the parish project and there will be a need for about another 80 mugs. These will be obtained ready to be presented at a "Bring and Share" supper evening to be arranged for October in The Church House. The date for this will be publicised as soon as possible.

It is hoped that all those who took part will bring photographs etc. that they had taken on the walks, also possibly a write-up, mentioning any particular items of interest concerning the event. Also welcomed would be any suggestions as to improvements or ideas for any future Boundary walks.

Roger Whale expressed a wish that the original artwork that he designed for the mugs should be kept amongst our collection of papers etc for future interest.

The meeting heard with regret that Pam Clare, of Dunstone Manor (Dunstone Court), was leaving the district. She has been very generous to the group since its inception, and she was presented with her ‘commemorative mug’, the meeting expressed the hope that she will be able to come back and join us from time to time at our meetings or walks etc. She thanked the group for "having me"! She promised to keep in contact.

The Tithe Map

In association with the beating of the bounds the old tithe map of 1845, at present housed in a long square box on the wall in the upstairs kitchen of The Church House, has been often mentioned. It was felt that this should be brought down and examined as it may show information that would correctly position parish and manor boundary stones etc. Peter thought that we should invite the conservators of The Devon Records Office to view it then, so that we could use their advice if any part of it needed restoration or repair. When a date for this has been arranged in conjunction with the Church House and The Parish Council, the group will be informed. It is to be hoped that a public exhibition of the map and some of the other artifacts in our possession can be held sometime, possibly to help raise funds for the ‘Tower Appeal’.

Programme 2001 and 2002

This is progessing.

Further suggestions for future speakers included :-

Robin Staines, well known authority on Dartmoor.

As a result of this evenings talk we should invite Len Copley again.

Tea rota

The ladies who provided the tea and biscuits for today’s meeting were thanked and all those who assisted with the serving and washing up thanked also.

September Phyllis Pascoe and Freda Wilkinson.

October Ruby Churchward and Betty Andrews

November Jenny Pascoe and Dinie Brickle

December Mary Pascoe and Wendy Beard.

John Lake Webber’s book of poems on Widecombe and the surrounding area c1876

Police Constable Simon Dell of Tavistock and Peter Hirst are still obtaining prices and costings for the printing of this book. Sir John Evans, Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, has given Simon his permission for him to be involved with this project. Geoffrey Bamsey will now contact Sir Roger Birch to see if he is willing to write the foreword to the book. All this has come about because of interest in the fact that John Lake Webber was the policeman for this parish when he originally wrote the book.

A suitable photograph of Leusdon Church is still needed.

Guided walk around Blackslade Mire

Twelve people attended the guided walk led by Colin Ridgers, around Blackslade Mire, to view some of the plants mentioned in his talk to the group at the July meeting. All those who attended had an interesting and enjoyable afternoon.

Future Activities

Guided walk with Len Copley around Burrator Reservoir to see points of interest brought up in his speech held earlier in the evening. This will be on Saturday 5th August at 12.00 noon.

Coach Trip to Dorchester, Dorset, to see the bells in their new steel frame. This will be held on Tuesday 8th August, leaving the village at 6.30 p.m.

September meeting, Wednesday 6th September at 7.30 p.m. Talk on Legends and Folklore with Dave Addis.

The meeting closed at 10.15 p.m.

Talk by Len Copley - Leats and Waterways on Dartmoor

Len Copley was thanked for a most interesting and informative address and a sincere hope that he will return to share his knowledge and interest with us again in the not too distant future was expressed

During the discussion afterwards, a plan to build a reservoir at Widecombe in 1901 was mentioned, no-one was aware of this, more on this perhaps at some future meeting.

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